Keselowski Gains Points Lead With Top-15 Finish
March 17, 2014
Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (.533-mile speedway, Bristol, Tenn.)
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
THE RACE REVIEW
· Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team began Sunday’s race, which was scheduled for 500 laps, from the front row after earning a second-place starting spot during Friday afternoon’s elimination qualifying. The effort marked Keselowski’s third consecutive front row qualifying result of the 2014 season.
· The race started two hours late as persistent rain kept dousing the racing surface. When the green flag waved to begin the event, Keselowski passed polesitter Denny Hamlin on lap 2 and led the next 40 laps.
· By lap 15 the Miller Lite machine caught lapped traffic and Keselowski reported that his Ford Fusion was not turning well through the corners. This condition resulted in the No. 2 machine losing a few positions in the running order.
· At lap 50, a NASCAR-mandated competition caution flag was displayed. This allowed the Team Penske Miller Lite pit crew to change tires, add fuel and make a small chassis adjustment to address the handling of the car.
· Keselowski restarted the race in the sixth position and then maintained a solid presence inside the top eight as he continued to battle a car that lacked turn in the center of the corners.
· Rain began again at lap 117 and four laps later the cars were called to the pits as the red flag was displayed to stop the race.
· After a delay of several hours, the race resumed under caution and then went green at lap 136 with Keselowski scored third in the running order.
· By lap 180, Keselowski, the winner of the Las Vegas race from one week earlier, reported a severe vibration which slowed the Miller Lite Ford and he lost a few positions. The No. 2 car visited pit lane a few laps later for a second NASCAR-mandated competition caution which allowed the team to make further adjustments to the chassis while adding fuel and changing tires.
· While running sixth with less than 50 laps remaining in the event, the No. 4 car of Kevin Harvick began leaking fluid on the track which caused the Miller Lite machine to slip up the track, into the wall and then into the rear of the No. 1 car. The contact resulted in significant damage to the front of the Miller Lite Ford.
· During the ensuing caution period, the No. 2 car made four visits to pit road as the Miller Lite crew cut away sheet metal and changed tires, all while managing to stay on the lead lap.
· Keselowski coaxed his injured machine home to a 14th-place finish as the event was unintentionally yellow flagged at lap 499 and then called for rain at lap 503.
· The top-15 finish was good enough to catapult Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team into first place in the championship standings as they carry a 10-point lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr. into next week’s race at Auto Club Speedway.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 MILLER LITE FORD
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE IN CONTENTION FOR A TOP FINISH AT BRISTOL. WHAT HAPPENED LATE IN THE RACE?
“We had a good car today. Our Ford Fusion didn’t have the speed today that it had in practice the last couple of days, but we were working on it and making steady gains. I felt as though we would have been able to challenge for a top-three. Our night took a serious turn for the worse when (Kevin) Harvick’s car started smoking and then it put down a lot of fluid, which caused both (Jamie) McMurray and I to get into the wall and then I hit McMurray too. It was a shame as I was doing my best to go where the fluid wasn’t, but we just didn’t get there. It is frustrating to make it that far in the race especially after the rain delays to end up 14th. The Miller Lite crew did a terrific job of keeping me on the lead lap, and our worst finish of the season was good enough to get the No. 2 Team Penske Ford into the points lead. We’ll figure how we can use what happened tonight to make us better and move on.”
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